LinkedIn is a social network made for professionals of all kinds. It has over 50 million members around the world and adds approximately 1 new member per second.
The majority of LinkedIn users have management and senior management titles and all companies listed in the FTSE 250 are represented on the social network. Over half of LinkedIn members are assessed as business decision makers. As a result LinkedIn is arguably the top social networking website for business people globally. There are many others however:
The core to LinkedIn’s success is it’s size and the emphasis placed on business networking culture. For example you can connect with people up to 3 degrees of separation to you, as such a strong network facilitates more networking. This can be used to market yourself, your business and establish valuable connections, whether they are with potential customers, suppliers or employees.
1. Creating an effective LinkedIn profile
The first stage is to create a complete and relevant profile. LinkedIn is for business networking so you need to complete your profile as a business. LinkedIn members with a 100% complete profile with comprehensive and appropriate business-oriented information are 40 times more likely to receive requests for connections, jobs and other opportunities.
- LinkedIn tracks how complete your profileis – ensure it is 100%.
- Claim your personal LinkedIn URL and make your profile public, so people can find you easily. Always include a clear, professional and recent photo – again a business picture, which means no holiday snaps!
- Include your middle name and any name you are commonly known by, to ensure people can find you, as it is unlikely your name is unique!
- Provide any distinguishing qualifications, affiliations etc that will differentiate yourself within your industry
- List and provide links to any business-related website, blogs or columns you write for.
- Include acronyms and spell them out to ensure you are included in relevant searches.
- Include accurate keywords in various areas of your profile that relate to your industry and skills, so you will be found when these are searched for.
- Ask a colleague to read through your profile – does it represent your best qualities and skill set?
- Make sure your profile is accurate, succinct and has no grammar or spelling mistakes.
- If you write a regular blog that relates to your business, consider importing it to your LinkedIn account using their applications. Use twitter? Do the same, as this shows you actively participate in your industry.
Once your profile is 100% complete, with comprehensive information about yourself, your work, past experience and how you are better than the rest you can start building the network.
2. Building your relevant network
- Connect with people. Find business associates, current and former colleagues, customers, etc. to invite to your LinkedIn network.
- Use LinkedIn’s contact import feature that allows you to identify which of your current contacts use LinkedIn and add them
- Connect with people you don’t know ONLY if it is a relevant request, or for something relevant to them. If people respond with “I don’t know this person” often you will be required to know people’s emails to initiate future connections- this makes networking a lot more difficult.
- A relevant network is better than a large one.
- Write recommendations for others and ask them to write recommendations for you. Recommendations improve your credibility in a similar way as references.
- Join and participate in groups relevant to your business and industry.
- Start your own group only if you are willing to give the necessary commitment to keep members engaged.
- Answer questions to demonstrate your expertise and build credibility.
- Post links to articles you have written with a short summary to a group who are likely to be interested in its content.
- Use URL shortened links (e.g. bit.ly) to provide manageable links that also track how many people have clicked on the link.
- Provide regular status updates to your profile.
- Check the various updates from your community on your home page every day. Find possible participation opportunities and members to invite for connecting with you.
- Add a link to your LinkedIn public profile to your email signature, so people request a connection.
- Add a link to your LinkedIn profile on your blog or website.
3. Using this information to benefit you and your business
- Think of LinkedIn as your online base of information and contacts list. As your profile is public people can find more about you easily from LinkedIn or Search Engines.
- Being active on social networks provides natural visibility that is relevant to your business only if you have a relevant network and contribute to the right groups.
- This has numerous applications from general networking, to business development and also career development.
- Your profile can give your business a personality and allow people to ‘get to know the business. It is easier to do business knowing the people behind it.
- Don’t spam groups with links to your website and generic copy about your business taken from your marketing material.
- The key is to participate and add value to people and the groups you are in, while subtly promoting your business. This builds trust and credibility
- LinkedIn is a great way to demonstrate your expertise, engaging in positive debate and latest industry thinking proves you know your industry.
- If you actively participate in a group and provide useful information, often this is included in the groups email communication, which means you receive a free email marketing campaign. If a link was included to your site voila!
- Check out what your competitors are doing on LinkedIn, who they know and what groups they are affiliated with.
If you would likek any more advice or help on using LinkedIn then please do Contact Us. We would be happy to help.